Apr 16 - Senator Strickland Proposes Government Warning on Grocery Bags
Submitted by Mark Murray on April 16, 2012 - 16:02.
California Republican State Senator Tony Strickland has proposed SB 1106, which would require government warning labels on reusable bags and at stores where bags are sold. The bill is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Environmental Quality Commitee on Monday, April 23.
While we are opposed to the bill in its current form, we want to encourage Senator Strickland’s apparent embrace—however misplaced--of the ‘precautionary principle’. In that spirit, we have provided Senator Strickland with suggestions in the following ‘Oppose unless amended’ letter.
April 16, 2012
Senator Tony Strickland
Re: SB 1106 (Strickland) Grocery Bag Warning Labels – Oppose Unless Amended
Dear Senator Strickland:
In its current form, we must oppose your SB 1106, which would require that every ‘Reusable Bag’ sold in this state carry a prescriptive government warning label that reads (in 10 point type):
We believe a government mandate requiring consumers to ‘clean and disinfect (bags) between uses’ is unnecessary, patronizing, and frankly absurd. None of the ailments cited in the second sentence of the above warning has ever been linked to the use of reusable bags.
The bill contains a number of findings regarding dire consequences resulting from contaminated food and food borne illnesses. However, not one finding makes any connection between known or suspected incidents of food-borne illness and the use of reusable bags. Subdivision (j) of the findings raises the concern:
However, we don’t need to speculate on the prospect of a significant increase in the use of reusable bags—it’s already occurred. Over 43 California jurisdictions have adopted ordinances banning single use plastic bags and promoting reusables. About 1 in 5 Californians live in a jurisdiction that has banned plastic bags, and that number grows monthly. According to the California Grocers Association, in California communities that have banned plastic bags, 75-90% of consumers bring their own bag. LA County reports a 94% reduction in all single use bags. Despite this sudden and significant growth in the use of reusable bags in these communities and across the U.S, there has been no increase in the incidence or reporting of associated food borne illness.
However, if it is your belief that such an extraordinary level of governmental oversight and guidance is necessary, we would ask that you balance the threat level associated with various means of carrying groceries by amending SB 1106 to include the following additional labeling and signage requirements that address more likely public health threats associated with grocery bags:
1) No person shall manufacture, sell, or distribute in commerce a plastic bag that does not contain the following warning label in 10-point type:
2) No person shall manufacture, sell, or distribute in commerce a paper bag that does not contain the following warning label in 10-point type:
3) The following warning shall be conspicuously displayed on a five-inch by eight-inch sign with 18 point type near any display where grocery bags are handled by consumers.
We urge you to reconsider SB 1106 in its current form.
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